There was no looping. No layers upon layers of strings. It was just Andrew Bird and his bass player, unplugged.
For Bird’s show at The Greene Space, he showed off three new songs from his latest album, Break It Yourself. The intimate space called for an intimate performance, which had Bird and his bass player Alan Hampton huddled together around a microphone, less than a foot between them. The stage setup referenced the western Illinois barn where the album was recorded. A space that Bird told the evening’s host, WNYC Soundcheck’s John Schaefer, was once “full of hay and raccoon feces.”
Though the album is barely a month old, Bird treated the show like an opportunity to correct the mistakes they made back there in the barn. For “Get It Away,” he kept things sweet and simple. No longer did the arrangement feel bloated, but instead served as a way to show off Bird’s lilting vocals, expert plucking and trademark whistling. The two toned down the indie rockness of the mythological ode, “Orpheo Looks Back” for something more refined. As an extra bonus, Bird threw in a cover of Charley Patton’s delta blues classic, “I’m Goin’ Home.”
Public radio’s biggest fan Ana Gasteyer was there too, to promote her new song and dance extravaganza, “Elegant Songs From a Handsome Woman,” giving us all another chance to revisit Pete Schweddy’s balls. Though The SNL alum got a few good laughs for her song about the hazards of mint juleps and her reboot of Blossom Deary’s “I’m Hip,” the night belonged to Bird.
See the following page for photos by Nadia Chaudhury.